Dhanurdhara Swami September 28th, 2002
One morning, during japa in the temple room of Gaura Priya and Brajajana’s house, Brajajana suddenly shared a simple realization. “Gaura-Nitai are here,” he said. “I should worship them every day. Why am I not? I wish I were more religious. I just finished a letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja. It’s such a good thing for me, but the last one I wrote was two years ago. Why? I think that we devotees in the West are, for the most part, just not religious.”
He has a point. How many devotees chant their japa religiously at a certain time in a certain place with concentration rather than haphazardly throughout the day in any place, regardless of the distraction? We have Deities, but how many of us serve Them with regularity and attention as if Krishna had appeared in their home? How often and with what eagerness do we join the congregational chanting of the holy name, the yuga-dharma?
I would often meet young men in India who, with honor, describe the religiousness of their family. “My grandfather would do puja every morning and evening for not less than three hours!” In Vrindaban, at a temple of a brijabasi friend, there hangs an eye-catching picture from 1946 of his father, the late Raj Singh, King of Mongryh, standing next to his gold and silver Rolls Royce in front of the British Parliament, where he was a member. He was wearing a neatly pressed grey Nehru suit, holding his bead bag to his heart, and was donned with perfect Gaudiya Vaishnava tilak. “He was a very religious man,” my friend proudly talks of his father. “Although he was so busy administering to the state, he would always chant one lac harinam [64 rounds] before attending the Parliament, without fail.”
America was also once a religious country. When I was young–not even in my teens–and if I was up early enough, I’d sometimes watched from my window a very elderly Jewish man saunter meekly by with the help of his cane to attend the early morning service at the local synagogue. My friends would occasionally also catch a glance of Mr. Gotlin in the morning with his peaceful smile and humble gait. We often joked about his steadiness, how every day without fail, rain or shine, he walked by. But even in our jest, and although our families were not religious, we appreciated the sincerity, steadiness, and goodness of this simple religious man.
My message here is simple: Be religious! If a disciple doesn’t take up the sadhana of his guru how can he achieve perfection?